Seven and a half hours, that’s how much time teens, ages eight to 18, spend consuming media in one day (Olsen n. p. ). Our world is based upon what’s seen on television, read in magazines, posted on Facebook, tweeted on Twitter, and what pictures are uploaded on Instagram. Our views of life and people often fall under categories that are closed minded and, most of the time, shallow. Society revolves around media; media is power over the masses. Because of this, teens and young adults become victims of its negative effects. “More than we know, messages from these media can influence how we construct a ‘reality’ about the world around us.
These messages can affect how we feel about ourselves, how we interact with others, and our beliefs and values about what we consider to be ‘true,’ ‘right,’ ‘beautiful’ or ‘normal’” (Olsen n. p. ). Media proposes false images and stereotypes which leave psychological and emotional effects upon youth. This is a topic I am very passionate about, I have a niece and I am a sunday school teacher back home, It matters what’s being fed into their minds. Psychological Effects A big part of life affected by media is the psychological part of teen’s lives. Television plays an important role in this area.
Anything that is seen on TV, movies, or heard on the radio influences kids and even adults in major parts life. Lately, the most common kind of messages left by media are sexual messages. The stars of today live to expose these inappropriate ideas. Anything that catches the youth’s attention comes back to them as money, lots of money. While celebrities are living what they perceive as a normal life, teens everywhere begin to adapt these new “trends” to their daily lives as well. Studies show that an average American home watches television about seven hours a day.
Most of what’s on that screen is filled with sexual images and themes; from movies and television series to music videos, sexual content is far more explicit today than it was a decade ago (Brown and Steele n. p. ). The reason that this element keeps increasing comes from the attention it receives. Lowry and Shidler both commented, “When sexual behavior in promotions for upcoming shows was added, the rate per hour increased from about 10 to more than 15, painting a picture more in line with public perceptions and supporting the idea that networks frequently use ‘sex as bait’ to increase their ratings” (635).
Girls tend to pay attention to female celebrities while boys look up after male artists. Advertisements also send sexual messages to communicate to youth. Any advertising company sees teenagers as consumers. Adolescents are always looking for a way to stay up to date with the latest of everything and have the best things; that’s what advertisers use as bait. Axe products are known for their great scent and how popular they are amongst young men. Their commercials consist of men attracting “hot” women because they are using Axe. In the 2004 beach commercial for Axe’s new shower gel, a guy is at the shower using the gel.
Mindless females begin to copy his movements as he’s washing his body with the Axe product. In the end the young man has a large mass of women surrounding him while holding their bikini tops; Axe’s logo appears at the end: the cleaner you are, the dirtier you get. Their ads use several approaches to convince men that this is the product they want (Aleman n. p. ).
Among these are: Humor- the situation is clearly outlandish, making it funny to the target audience; Fear- the ad talks about how a supposedly ‘real man’ is secure enough in his masculinity to keep his ool, putting fear in the viewer’s mind that if they can’t keep their cool, they’re not manly enough; Beautiful people- the women in the ad are basically models, implying that if you use Axe you will land gorgeous women; and Association- this ad plants the association in your mind between Axe and manliness or Axe and getting lucky with the ladies. (Aleman n. p. ) This leads to the next point under psychological effects. False advertising for fake beauty is the foundation for many problems that a lot of females face. Many young girls live with this pressure everyday.
The harsh and expensive world of child beauty pageants began in America. It was here where the “multimillion-dollar industry” began. It later crossed over to Europe and it became a really big hit there too (Day 34). The pageant industry consists of girls, and often boys, competing against each other to get a certain title. Elizabeth Day, writer for The Observer in London, England, also says, “To their critics, such beauty pageants are exploitative, pressuring children to adopt semi-sexualised adult mannerisms that they do not fully understand and enforcing the message that physical appearance is all-important” (34).
Every dollar and bit of energy and time that children put into pageants just comes to show how image is a great deal to society. They grow up believing this; and they go through life meeting other people’s expectations. Not all psychological effects come from an idealized image. A really big problem today is violence, and everyone agrees that it comes via media. By the time a person is 18, he will have witnessed approximately 200,000 violent acts, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, whose experts point out that a strong correlation exists between exposure to television violence and aggressive behavior.
Teens are exposed to even more violent images when they watch movies, surf the Internet and play video games in which brutality is rewarded. The result is desensitization to violence. (Wilen. p. ) This problem is more frequent in males than females. Most modern action movies and video games involve a lot of violence. Also, another problem that goes along with this is the ratings of movies and video games. Violent content has been de-emphasized over the years; films that were rated R before are now rated PG-13.
Video games that were rated Mature (M) are now considered Teen (T) games. “Researchers found that 94% of the highest-grossing films since 1985 had one or more sequences containing violence. Of those 396 films, gunplay has tripled within the PG-13 rating, while it remained flat or declined in films rated G, PG and R” (Horn and Zeitchik n. p. ). Every scene involving firearms isn’t just giving teens an image of what a violent scene may look like, it also gives them some instruction on how to use a gun.
The case of the shooting in Colorado a couple years ago during the premiere of the Dark Knight Rises involved a young man assaulting innocent citizens who went to see the premiere of the new movie; the threatening and ferocious shooting happened during one of the various gunning scenes in the movie. Emotional Effects Following the mental effects left by media on youth are emotional effects. Everything that a person feels is linked to what and how he or she thinks. Two major problems in this area are the struggle with self-esteem and depression.
Adolescents are known for struggling with these topics on a daily basis due to the fact that they have any source of media at the touch of their fingers. Low self-esteem (LSE) is a thinking disorder in which feelings of failure, rejection, and worthlessness fill an individual’s mind. This also causes a person’s emotions to be distorted. Because of distorted emotions, one has trouble trusting people; he/she may also develop a fear of learning or trying something new due to the panic of looking like a fool (“Questions”). Both boys and girls suffer from LSE, the majority of teens start feeling inferior at a very early age.
Kids compare themselves to others everyday, it’s part of life, but those who develop thoughts of inferiority run the risk of struggling with self-esteem for the rest of their lives. “Seven in ten girls believe that they are not good enough or don’t measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members” (Dove). So why do so many females struggle with low self-esteem today? The world’s image of a girl is so unrealistic that not one magazine picture isn’t photoshopped.
Tv shows, movies, and even music sketch out a certain image women should strive for. Some people might believe that this can build women up by giving them something to strive for, but really it only brings them down. If a young woman picks up any magazine today, the most common thing she will read is how to lose weight or get a perfect body figure in a short period of time. She’ll begin to wonder if she’s thin enough, if she’s as pretty as the model on the cover. Feelings of lesser value will fill her mind and she will begin to underestimate her true beauty because of a fake picture in a senseless magazine.
71% of girls with low self-esteem feel their appearance does not measure up, including not feeling pretty enough, thin enough or stylish or trendy enough (compared to 29% of girls with high self-esteem); 78% of girls with low self-esteem admit that it is hard to feel good in school when you do not feel good about how you look (compared to 54% of girls with high self-esteem); A girl’s self-esteem is more strongly related to how she views her own body shape and body weight, than how much she actually weighs. (Dove) Boys struggle with low self-esteem just like girls do.
Many of them feel ignored by parents and find themselves befriending virtual players in video games; school becomes less important as well. Image also influences how a boy feels about himself. In 2012, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image came up with the idea that boys and girls should be enrolled in “body image and self-esteem lessons”. After a survey of 693 members across the UK, the union concluded that 51% of the members thought boys were really insecure about their body image; meanwhile, another 30% mentioned that being self conscious about body image made boys very anxious (Sellgren).
These teen boys find themselves in a situation they often don’t understand, and because they sometimes can’t find anyone to talk to they keep their emotions to themselves. In conclusion, It’s hugely important how people view themselves, especially the most influential population of our society… our children. We need to encourage our youth to be bold and to love themselves! Being influential to this group is huge for businesses across the world, and should always be a priority.